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Business News/ News / India/  Delhi pollution 'crime against humanity', demands to 'shut schools' grow

Delhi pollution 'crime against humanity', demands to 'shut schools' grow

Delhi pollution: Farm fires in Punjab are said to be the major reason behind the polluted air in Delhi. Yesterday, the neighbouring state reported 3,634 farm fires

Delhi air quality: Students walk down a road to their schools amid low visibility due to smog (PTI)Premium
Delhi air quality: Students walk down a road to their schools amid low visibility due to smog (PTI)

As a blanket of smog engulfs the national capital Delhi, demand has grown to shut schools in view of the health of children. The air quality index (AQI) in the Delhi-NCR region has continued to remain under the "severe" category, according to the data from the Central Pollution Control Board. The AQI stood at more than 450 in several areas in the city and the reading above 400 affects healthy people, with serious impacts on those with existing diseases.

Expressing concern over the deteriorating air quality in Delhi, author and socialite Suhel Seth wrote,"What is happening with air pollution in Delhi is nothing short of a crime against humanity!"

On the other hand, parents and environmentalists on social media demanded schools be closed.

"I know children don’t vote for you, but still, requesting all the chief ministers of Delhi (capital region) to immediately SHUTDOWN all the schools," environmental activist Vimlendu Jha wrote on Twitter. "It's not NORMAL to breathe 500 AQI, not for our children, where every third child already has some pulmonary challenge."

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo has also urged the Delhi government to consider shutting schools in the interest of the children, as per a PTI report.

“The safety of school children is a matter of concern due to the dangerous level of pollution in Delhi, so far no decision has been taken by the state government of Delhi. Children are in the wrath of toxic air on their way to school, in playgrounds. This negligence is wrong, @NCPCR_ is issuing notice on it," Kanoongo tweeted.

Additionally, the Delhi BJP has also raised similar demand. “Children are being affected the most with pollution reaching very severe levels. Sending children in open fields or outside the house in such severe pollution is making them sick," Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta wrote a letter to Lt Governor VK Saxena.

Farm fires in Punjab are said to be the major reason behind the polluted air in Delhi. Yesterday, the neighbouring state reported 3,634 farm fires.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, whose party also rules Punjab where crop burning is rampant, said on Twitter that the "people of Punjab and Delhi are taking all steps at their level" to tackle pollution.

The capital this week stopped most construction and demolition work to curb dust pollution and appealed to residents to share the car and motorcycle journeys, work from home when possible and reduce the use of coal and firewood at home.

Kejriwal has blamed d the central government for rising incidents of stubble burning in Punjab and said it should "resign" if it cannot control air pollution.

he said the Punjab government had prepared a plan to give a cash incentive of 2,500 per acre to farmers so that they are not forced to burn stubble.

"The Centre rejected the proposal. They said they won't do anything for the farmers because of their protests against the three farm laws. The central government's hatred for farmers is the reason behind the smoke (from farm fires) all around," Kejriwal claimed.

He said the Delhi government has been doing everything possible to fight air pollution and has strictly implemented curbs on pollution activities under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). Similarly, the Punjab government has taken all necessary steps to prevent stubble burning.

"If the Centre cannot control air pollution, it should resign. We will then show how to do it," he said.

The Delhi and Punjab governments jointly sent a proposal to the Centre in July to help them give cash incentives to farmers in the agrarian state for not burning stubble.

According to the proposal, Delhi and Punjab would give 500 each and the Centre would contribute 1,500 per acre.

Farmers say a cash incentive can help them cover the cost of the fuel used in operating the machinery for the in-situ management of paddy straw.

According to Punjab government officials, the Centre rejected the proposal, saying it has been providing subsidized machinery to farmers, such as happy seeders, rotavators, and mulchers, for the in-situ management of paddy straw and that it does not have money to dole out cash incentives.

Kejriwal said abusing him or farmers in Punjab will not resolve the problem of stubble burning.

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Published: 03 Nov 2022, 12:07 PM IST
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